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Should You Leave the Lights On?


By on January 29, 2020

It seems like a no-brainer to leave the lights on outside of your home to deter burglars while you’re away or asleep. But does that really work, or is it just a waste of electricity? Read on for tips on how to secure your home, and save money!

The answer to this question can differ depending on a number of factors, but one thing is clear: there are more than 1.5 million residential burglaries in the United States every year, and over half of those burglaries involved forcible entry according to the Criminal Justice Information Services Division of the FBI.

If you’re relying on lights as part of your home security routine, be sure to put some thought into how you’re using them. Here are a few general recommendations about when to light things up – and some instances where it may be better to be in the dark.

Always contact your local law enforcement via their non-emergency line (do not dial 911) if you’re curious about trends of burglaries specific to your area, and ask for tips on how to better thwart them! 

When to Keep Your Lights On

There are plenty of instances where it makes sense to leave your porch light on:

  • When you’re home (and awake). This doesn’t just alert a potential thief to the fact that someone is home; it allows you to see anyone approaching or exploring around outside. Having a variety of interior lights on, of course, also shows that the home is occupied and not the best target.
  • When you go out at night. Generally, leaving a light on when you go out provides you easier access into your home before someone who is lurking nearby can surprise you.
  • If possible, combine a porch light with other lights. If you have lighting in your backyard or over the garage, use those in conjunction with the one by your front door and interior lights. This can add to the appearance that someone is home.

When to Keep Your Lights Off

Despite what many people think, having your lights on all the time isn’t helpful. It may actually attract burglars who are casing the area for patterns of how you use your lights!

  • When it’s light out. Exterior lights left on all day can give the impression that nobody is home. After all, if you were home, wouldn’t you have turned them off during the daytime?
  • When you’re on vacation. The same principle applies to your vacation – When burglars notice lights on for several days at a time, they will likely assume you’re away.
  • When you go to sleep. This might seem counterintuitive, but residential crime happens often during the daylight hours, when you’re at work and the children are at school so that porch light on at 3AM might not do as much as you think.
  • If you live in a rural area. Lights might help burglars more than deter them by providing light to help them navigate an otherwise dark exterior. And, unlike a city, there are few people around to spot them snooping suspiciously in the glow of a porch light.

A Great Option: Automate Your Lights!

The goal of lighting, from a security standpoint, is to make thieves believe someone is occupying your home. The most effective way to do that is by lighting, both inside and out. By varying the times these lights turn on and off, you can accomplish the appearance of being home when you’re not!

Automatically adjusting your exterior and interior lights can be as easy as purchasing a lamp with Bluetooth capabilities that you can monitor through your mobile device or come with a timer that you can set before you leave. Another option might be to purchase motion-sensing lights to startle burglars as they approach your home. 

However you use your lights, Preferred Mutual encourages you to take other security measures, in addition to lights:

  • Trim your trees and shrubs.
  • Confide in a neighbor your trust if you’ll be out of town.
  • Install a home alarm that will connect you to local authorities in the event of a breach.

Remember, turning on your lights may only be truly effective if it is part of a larger strategy to keep your home secure. Part of that strategy should involve your insurance company. Call your Preferred Mutual independent agent today to make sure your property and belongings are properly covered under your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance! Being prepared is your best defense, so that you can live assured!

Contact us now for a free security assessment!